Russia has warned that it would retaliate against any sanctions imposed by the US over the imprisonment of Alexei Navalny, who was jailed on Tuesday for almost three years.
Moscow is facing international outrage over its treatment of Alexei Navalny, the anti-corruption and pro-democracy campaigner, who was jailed on Tuesday for almost three years.
Navalny has long been harassed by Russia’s law enforcement and Kremlin loyalists for his campaign against President Vladimir Putin’s dictatorship in the country and the corruption that is rampant among Russia’s rulers, as well as their oligarch allies.
This comes after the Kremlin accused the United States of interfering in Russia’s domestic affairs after downplaying the scale of the weekend’s protests, when tens of thousands of Russian citizens rallied in support of the jailed opposition politician Alexei Navalny.
Navalny had returned to Russia in January following several months in Germany, where he was recuperating from an alleged attempted assassination by Russia’s FSB secret service. He was arrested on his return, accused, and this week convicted, of violating his parole terms from a previous money laundering sentence that he says was politically motivated.
His arrest has prompted a wave of protests in Russia, leading to thousands of arrests, with hundreds of people being arrested for protesting outside of the Moscow court where Navalny was being sentenced earlier this week.
US President Joe Biden’s administration has spoken out against arrest and imprisonment of Alexei Navalny. Some lawmakers, including Republican Senator Mitt Romney, are pushing for the government to impose new sanctions on the Kremlin as a response.
Maria Zakharova, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson has warned that any action, such as sanctions, would be met with retaliation. “Taking well-considered and not aggressive action is always more useful and effective,” she told the Soloviev Live channel on YouTube, according to the state-run Tass news agency.
“Retaliation must certainly follow,” she said. “If no symmetric or proportionate action is taken there where the United States cross the red lines, it will feel absolute impunity.”
This comes after, referring to it as “Putin’s biggest secret”, Mr Navalny and his team have revealed new details about the sprawling complex that is located near the resort town of Gelendzhik which has long been rumoured to be belonging to the Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Russia is already currently under broad American sanctions in response to its invasion of eastern Ukraine and the annexing of Crimea, its meddling in foreign democratic elections, as well as its covert assassination attempts against dissidents abroad.
Moscow has tried to frame such measures as Russophobic and baseless. “Didn’t they promise sanctions last week, a month ago, six months ago?” Zakharova asked when discussing potential action over Navalny.
“When I hear that, I recall every previous time they promised sanctions,” she said. “By the way, the excuses are entirely different. They do not need any. They will always find and invent them.”